Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pinky Winky

Such a cute name, but I'm not sure where the title comes from. Is there a cartoon character who shares this moniker? A stuffed animal? A kid's book?

Whatever. The hydrangea paniculata 'Pinky Winky' is a grand charmer. At maturity he'll be some 6' - 7' tall and wide, but he's already spectacular. Those strong red stems! Those HUGE (up to 16") flower panicles that start off white, and turn pink at the base for a two-toned treat! The graceful habit, imposing presence, long bloom, and drought resistance all combine to make this a favorite.

A Proven Winners shrub, it's been in my front walk garden for three years now, (starting off as a mere twig) and I delight in seeing it as I walk up to the front door from the driveway or step out in the morning to get the daily paper.

Only once has Pinky been nipped by deer, but I'm forewarned, so now I apply deer repellent once per week, at the same time the stuff goes on the hosta, phlox, etc.

'Pinky Winky' has earned a place in my heart. True, he'll soon be too big for my Front Walk Garden and so will have to have a place in another of my gardens, but I'll still cherish him even when he's further away.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Book Publicity is Hard Work!

For most of my adult life I'd wanted to write a book. I write for magazines, do a weekly garden column, keep a garden journal, and have a couple of novels "in the drawer" (never sold). But tah-dah! This past May my garden memoir, Mentors in the Garden of Life was published. Such a thrill! Such a lot of hard work writing it and getting it birthed!

Little did I know the real work was just starting.

Nowadays, most publishing houses do very little to publicize books, especially books by new authors, or books with a perceived "small" audience. So publicity is up to the author. And it's an arduous task. It takes time to make contacts at bookstores and libraries & request a book signing or talk. (and we are often rebuffed). It takes knowledge and time to reach out to venues which may or may not want to interview us or review our book. It takes courage and money to send out review copies to people who may or may not review us, or review us kindly.

Add to all this the the fact that it seems fewer and fewer folk read books anymore, and it's an uphill job to publicize one's own book. I mean, how often and for how long does one blow one's own horn? Which PR overtures are likely to pay off? Who knows!?

But the only way word about my book, or any book is going to get out there is to keep on trying. So each day I try to make at least one outreach, one contact. I know Mentors in the Garden of Life is an interesting, well-written book, one with stories, messages, garden info, and life lessons. I'd like it to have a decent chance Out There. So I'll keep slugging away.

You can help. Consider purchasing my garden memoir either from me ( or or come to my book talk/signings. I'll be at Southbury Borders on Saturday, July 24th, and Danbury Borders on Saturday, August 21.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Carefree Caladiums

It's been terribly hot and dry this summer. Waaay above normal for temps and way below normal for rainfall. Some plants have suffered, and so have I.

A bright spot, literally and figuratively, are my caladiums. I generally purchase some potted specimens for my Shade Garden, which is so deeply shaded that even impatiens won't blossom in its depths. But caladiums shine. And glory be, once established, they haven't needed supplemental watering!

They'll last until frost, brightening up their alloted square feet in the universe. They're insect and disease-free, and earn their keep every day.

Are there any problems with caladiums? Of course! No plant is without problems. In the Plimpton garden there are several main issues with these handsome fellows:

One: They're expensive. Try at least 5$ a pot. Ranging on up to $12 or $15 (I won't buy them at that usurious price)

Two: They're very cold-sensitive, so can't be put out here until June 1.

Three: For me they're not easy to get started. They lag behind other stuff and I run out of room.

Four: Try as I might, I haven't been successful at wintering them over. I've tried leaving them in their pots. (they rotted in the garage). I've tried placing them tenderly in ever so slightly damp peat moss for the winter. (they disappeared).

I need to check with my propogating wizzard pal, Suzanne Galante to see how she would do it.

In the meantime, I'll enjoy my caladium beauties for the next couple of months and then rethink how to save them over the winter.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Queen of the Prairie is deposed

She's gone, my filipendula, aka Queen of the Prairie. Statuesque, pink, blowsy, easy to grow and gorgeous in the vase, nonetheless I've evicted her. Why?

She's too tall, and wants too much sun. While my my Backyard Garden is quite large, (100' x 100'), it gets progressively shadier as the deciduous trees in the woods ringing it grow inexorably taller. The Queen was leaning over the buddleia, obscuring the hosta, and threatening the pink 'Knockout' rose. I decided a couple of years ago she had to go. Actually getting rid of her, however, was another story.

I began pulling her up in clumps each spring, and potting her up for the Garden Club plant sale. But she was a persistent monarch, and kept sprouting more clumps. Which I kept pulling and potting.

For several years.

This year, no Miss Nice Gal. I yanked her up wherever I found her and tossed her unceremoniously into the woods. I think I finally have the situation under control.

New large hostas, 'Dick Ward', 'Sum of All' and 'Abiqua Drinking Gourd' have taken her place.

I hope.